A Matching Set

Chapter 3

The car shook as the jugs of moonshine were unloaded. The Doctor heard the men making rather man-like comments about a woman named Arlene, who was obviously rather pleasing to behold…and hold as well. That poor lady, he thought. Probably someone's wife, mother and daughter. It was disgusting how humans could strip away each other's dignity so easily.

The Doctor was taller than the car was wide and, without a passenger-side door, it made for some uncomfortable hiding. How exactly was he supposed to hide in a black car in the dark of night while wearing a white suit? And why was he hiding? He was the Doctor – why was he waiting? He wasn't The Doctor Who Waited. He was The Doctor on Whom Others Waited.

Something had gone wrong in the order of authority. He couldn't pinpoint it, but somewhere along the way, the power had shifted. And it was unacceptable.

After several minutes of silence, he cautiously raised his head to peek over the backseat and dash of the car, peering left and right across the alley. He flipped himself over to lie on his stomach, spun around in the seat and inched closer to the opening where the door should have been. The Doctor slowly poked his head out of the car to have a more thorough look. He appeared to be alone in the alley, and the streets nearby were ghost-like as well.

He tried to right himself into a sitting position, but his height and the shallowness of the car's interior made it nearly impossible. So, he slid across the seat on his stomach and carefully eased out of the car head first, crawling from the vehicle like a legless animal. He plopped onto the ground like something newborn.

River had turned him into a baby seal. Though he knew that there must be some humor to be found, he was unable to locate it in the moment.

He stood and brushed himself off. The door through which she had disappeared was ajar just enough to allow a peep. He reached into the car and retrieved his walking stick and stealthily crept towards the door. He had thought of the numerous times he had told this or that companion to stay outside of this or that place, always for their own good. And every time, they had taken matters into their own hands…usually resulting in more saving than would have otherwise been necessary. But it was only a fleeting thought.

He was the Doctor.

In a white suit. In the dark. Many things he could do and do well, but a chameleon, he was not.

Quietly climbing the steps to the door, he peeked in. He could see River and several similarly dressed individuals talking rather far into the warehouse. He could slip in without being noticed, hide behind some nearby crates and still be close enough to hear what was going on.

The Doctor hung his stick on the rail beside the steps and snaked through the opening in the door. Crouching low, he tiptoed across the warehouse floor and ducked behind the stacked crates. He strained to hear the conversation going on between the men and River. He could see that it was a friendly exchange, but he couldn't hear what was being said. He rolled his eyes at his own debilitating curiosity.

There were more crates ahead that would adequately hide a stalker if he could get to them without being noticed. He surveyed his surroundings and found that if he slid along the wall, he would be hidden under the shadows of the rafters overhead. He smiled at his luck and cleverness and followed the path carefully and silently, slipping successfully behind the barrier of crates.

The voices were much clearer now, but he dared not peek over or around the crates for the visual. His pale skin would reflect nearly as much light as his clothing.

"So, there was no trouble?"

"Nothing I couldn't handle."

"Oh, I can't imagine that such a thing even exists, Arlene."

The Doctor's eyebrows turned inward, and he mouthed to himself with distaste, Arlene?

"You do know I love a chase, Al dear. There might be a few coppers cursing my little roadster as we speak." The Doctor recognized the flirtatiousness in her voice, and he sensed a sudden change in his mood. Something rather unpleasant.

There was shuffling across the floor, and an almost inaudible squeal and giggle from River.

"Arlene, when are you going to admit that you are meant to be my girl? This is not a body meant to be hidden away in a library." There were wet noises, and the Doctor was positive that it was no leaky faucet. That man was leaving wet marks somewhere on River. His legs began to twitch and his hands clenched into fists.

"Now, now, easy boy. We have a professional understanding, Al. I bring the hooch, you bring the cash, and then we wave goodbye, darling. It's why we're so hard to catch. You don't want to ruin a good thing, do you?" More wet noises. "Even though you do make a good argument…hands, you naughty boy!" Sexy River laughing. The Doctor rolled the fingers of a tightly clenched fist.

"As do you, my sweet criminal. Okay, Arlene, you win again. Same time, same place…umm, two weeks?"

"Of course." There were several sets of footprints that could be heard shuffling off. "Hey, Al!" River called.

All movement stopped. "Yes, dollface?"

"How about you stop sending your cronies into my establishment, huh? I don't need that kind of attention if we want this to continue, yeah?"

"Whatever you say, dollface." And the shuffling of footsteps faded into silence.

The Doctor finally let go of the breath he'd been holding and released the tension that had had most of his body locked into place. He suddenly realized that he had not considered how he would return to the car ahead of River without being outed as a peeping tom of sorts.

He crept slowly along the wall and slid behind the first stack of crates and contemplated his next move. He heard the heels of River's shoes approach and panicked for an idea. He got distracted by the swing of her hips as she walked by and his concentration on the task took a backseat to the discomfort bubbling in his gut.

"Are you coming or do I have to sit in the car and wait for you to figure it out?"

Dammit. The Doctor stood and followed her out of the warehouse. "But I was so careful."

"You're still you. Why do you think I walked so far into the place?" She opened the door to the car and slid gracefully into the seat. "You are incapable of following directions."

He had one leg in the car when he turned and hurried back to the warehouse, returning with his walking stick. Jumping in, he replied, "I don't know, Arlene. Perhaps to have more room to dance with your boyfriend."

The car lurched forward and River slowly left the alley and the warehouse behind them. "Oh, shut up."

"I heard the wetness."

"Don't forget the hands," she said snidely.

"I couldn't hear the hands."

"Consider yourself spared, then."

"Hey, I was supposed to be in Honolulu. I'm no happier about being here than you are about having me," he spat.

"Oh, I doubt that, honey."

"I like you better in a…." He let the sentence trail off, remembering the sensitivity of their timestreams. He wasn't even sure of where or when they were in relation to each other. There hadn't been time to ask, with all the dangerous criminal activity and whatnot.

"In a what?" She looked at him with both curiosity and anger.

"Spoilers." That word felt superior as it rolled of his tongue. He liked it. "And I don't feel nearly as saddened by what those men were saying about Arlene earlier."

"I hate you."

"You still don't."

"Just give me time…"

He decided to sit and fester in his anger about the inappropriate kissing behavior in the warehouse rather than argue with an irritated River. So, while the roadster rolled quietly down the streets of the seemingly-vacant town, they both sat silently, smoldering in both disgust and lust - each of them wondering which emotion would win out and neither willing to look the other in the eye and give in, knowing that lust was definitely stronger than the other.

It was going to be a long night.

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